Monday, December 17, 2007

Iorek is awesome

The Golden Compass is very good. I think anyone not familiar with the books will wonder what the brouha is over the movie, as there is nary a whiff of any real religious overtones. The typical menacing Catholic-looking evil guys are there, but then this is the standard stereotype to use in the movies for any evil religious-type organization.

The idea of Dust has been neutered. It's all about free will now. Who can possibly find anything wrong with that idea? I find this rather interesting, as free will comes into play a lot in the books, but not in a way that many religious people would like at face value. I say "face value" because once you scratch past the surface to see what Pullman is really getting at, the "aha" moment will come.

The girl who plays the protagonist Lyra is phenomenal. A complete unknown--a schoolgirl plucked from the crowd of thousands of wanna-be Lyras--she holds her own next to Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. I just realized that my "daemon," the snow leopard, is the same as Lord Asriel's. Those of you familiar with the books will see how odd this is.

The exiled polar bear king Iorek Byrnison alone is worth seeing the movie.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I just made something

I can't believe it! I actually made my very own mashup. It's quite simple and not very useful for anyone but myself and a few janeites (if that). I mashed together RSS feeds from two different Jane Austen blogs, AND sorted the entries by publication dates so that they will be interfiled in the output page. You can see it here: Jane Austen.

This is about the extent of what I can mashup. If you look at the "Create a Pipe" section of the Yahoo Pipes website, you will see how complicated it looks, at least to a layperson like me. (You have to have a yahoo account to look at it). If I had more time, I could probably figure out a few other ways to mash things up by looking at what others have done. I'll save that for a rainy day.

For some really cool mashups, see the Mashup Awards website.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flickr mashups

Here's something useless but fun, accomplished through Spell with Flickr.



coloured card disc letter t Bead Letter H e

L Bead Letter I B R A R Y

Things mashed up

I'm nearing the finish line with my Learning 2.0 posts!

Mashups are web applications that take data from two or more sources and mix them together (mash them up) to make a new application. For an example, see 1001 Secret Fishing Holes (though one wonders how 'secret' these locations are if they are posted on the web). I've noticed that a lot of people use Google maps in their mashups to do things like show the birthplaces of Forbes' 100 Most Powerful Celebrities, or America's Most Unsafe Cities.

As is the case with any web 2.0 application, there are cool mashups mixed in with a lot of pretty useless ones. Just from browsing the Mashup Directory, I haven't found any mashups that I will use in the future, though this Census Dashboard one is pretty cool. Many of the mashups I looked at either did not work properly, or made no sense. Any "about" pages they may have had tended to be on the rather sparse side--a rather frustrating recurrence.

Part of the reason for this uneven quality of mashups is due to the fact that most of these creators are amateurs, like you and me. Some of them have hit the nail on the head and created rather interesting mashups, while others have some work ahead of them. For now, I'll stick with playing around with Flickr mashups .

Monday, December 10, 2007

Podcasting makes me think of aliens

Our next lesson is on podcasting. It looks like there is a lot of cool stuff out there--it's not just music. There's podcasts on just about anything you can think of, even one on homesteading (unfortunately none just on goats--which would be rather weird: what would you talk about?) Entertainment, politics, health, home and garden, you name it, podcasts cover the whole world of information.

I'm going to return to a personal concern of mine, related to the one about youtube: what about hearing impaired people like me? There's not very many podcasts out there than continually provide transcripts for each show. A quick google search (I only looked at the first two pages of results) turned up two podcasts that had transcripts for shows talking about deaf people, which makes sense...but I'm not really that interested in deaf culture, besides the fact that I just happen to be almost deaf.

This doesn't really bother me, as I am a book person and get my current events stuff from watching TV and reading the newspaper, but this is more based on my personality rather than being hearing impaired. What about those deaf people out there who enjoy this kind of stuff?

Musings on youtube

Youtube is a black hole that will suck you in if you are not careful. One video leads to another, and another, and another, and before you know it, you've just spent all day staring at computer screen.

But it's FUN!

Some of the things I've watched on youtube:
-a praying mantis capturing a mouse (I couldn't believe it!)
-a bike messenger race through New York City (you will cringe, as the camera is mounted on the biker's helmet)
-a showdown between a scorpion and a spider
-gypsies dancing in Romania
-flatfoot dancing
-fainting goats fainting on the field

my very own husband setting off the fire alarm at his school (see below for the video)!

Like any web 2.0 application, youtube has it good points and stupid points (I'm sure there are plenty of frat house parties and other similar wild things that college students will live to regret when they get a job and their employer finds this out). It's good for learning about some really interesting things--where else can you see the Roma gypsies dancing, or a praying mantis catching something--anytime and anywhere? Many people, librarians included, are using youtube as a cheap way to post presentations on a variety of things, like how to do successful research or explaining how something like social bookmarking works (as the people behind the Learning 2.0 here at EKU have taken advantage of).

Youtube could be a way of enhancing library websites--librarians could make short videos that take patrons on a virtual tour of library resources, for instance. Students at universities might appreciate this. I have several concerns. One is the students living off-campus who may not have a robust internet connection that can support streaming video. Will they be left behind?

Another is more personal--what about hearing impaired people like me? I really don't have any use for videos that talk a lot for the obvious reason that I can't understand them. Is there a possibility of adding a closed-caption option to videos on the internet so that people like me can use them?

For now, the only thing I get out of youtube are the videos that rely more on visuals than sound--which is why I watch a lot of animals, or people doing things.

For a rather bizarre youtube video that is more of an inside joke than really interesting, see March of the Librarians.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Jon set the fire alarm off

Here's Jon on youtube...

Ghost riding

Sometimes you find some very random things through your serendipitous browsing of the internet...

I was looking up web design and came across a website that let you make free websites. It had some sample websites, which I looked at to get an idea of their functionality, and I came across this website, Ghost Ride The Whip. Apparently, ghost riding is when someone puts a car in neutral and they get out and dance beside it while it is rolling. It was started by some hip-hoppers in California, but anybody does it, as you will see from this youtube video below.

Putting the old ways to rest

Google Docs is awesome.

It's not as robust as Microsoft Word, but it has all the features I need for pretty much all my writing. If I want to mess with inserting footnotes and all that minute detail, I'll just look at my document in Microsoft Word. It's as easy as that. I can also look at it in PDF or HTML or whatever else I feel like.

That's the beauty of Google Docs. You can access it anywhere, and it is compatible with proprietary software, so there's no headaches of trying to convert documents back and forth. The layout of Google Docs is also straightforward, so there's no steep learning curve. All your basic editing tools are laid out at the top--cut and paste, font magic, insert a photo or table, etc. There's no slight fear of hitting the wrong button and messing the whole document up, as has happened to me with Microsoft Word. (Don't make me tell you about the time I spent with a library patron wrestling with Microsoft Word just to get it to format a single line).

If I were still in school (ha!) I would definitely use Google Docs, if only because the flexibility it affords--I can work on a document anywhere there is internet access and not have to worry about losing my USB drive.

No more school, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks

It is finished!

I managed to slog through the last class I will (ever?) have to take last night, trying to take notes and pay attention (management topics are rather hard to focus on). It's rather strange--I feel like I can officially call myself an adult now that I've completed graduated, even though I've been one for a while now. While my current job is not completely full-time yet, I consider myself successful--not many library graduates find a library job right away when they get out of school, at least not in their field of interest.

Side note: I've been going to school for 23 years (I'm 26)...think about that.

Monday, December 03, 2007

From the bountiful offerings of the web

A lot of web-based applications have popped up on the web. They are usually free, which is nice for those who don't want to shell out big bucks for Microsoft Office or some other expensive software pack. The one I find particularly interesting, and have actually used even before this lesson, is Google docs. It is similar to Microsoft Office and lets you create or upload documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The cool thing about this is that you can access your documents wherever there is the internet. You don't have to carry around a USB drive and lose it (like I did). All you need is a free google account. This will be very attractive to students who want to be able to work on their documents anywhere, or who tend to forget things (like I do).